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Nearly one in ten UK schools have mobile phone masts nearby - survey

Category: News; BBC THREE

Date: 08.11.2004
Printable version

New research reveals that nearly one in ten schools in the UK have mobile phone masts nearby - and despite industry commitments to consult schools on 3G masts, in 76% of cases the mobile phone companies surveyed have failed to do so.


The survey to be unveiled on 3 Investigates: Mobile phone masts (BBC THREE, Thursday 11 November, 9.00pm) mapped every school in the UK and measured how many phone masts (macro and micro*) were nearby.


The results show that out of a total of 26,532 schools in the country, 2,350 (8.9%) have at least one macro mast within 50 to 200 metres of a school, where the emissions from the masts are usually at their strongest.


In total there were 4,091 mobile phone masts within this range.


The worst case was that of Soho Parish School in central London with a total of 27 masts nearby.


In central London every school has a mast within 200 metres and St George's Hanover Square C of E Primary School in London had 13 masts within the earmarked zone.


The Isles of Scilly had no masts at all.


Rachel Earnshaw, headteacher at Soho Parish School, said: "I think it's very worrying. We don't know what the long term effect of these masts may be."


Janet Summers, headteacher at Friar's Primary School in south London, added: "I don't think it is acceptable... we have got charge of other people's children – taking charge of them and meeting health and safety regulations elsewhere. But we can't stop the airwaves coming in."


In 2001, shortly after the 3G licences were awarded to the phone companies, the industry signed up to 'Ten Commitments' to ensure open, honest and transparent business dealings.


They pledged to consult with schools when 3G masts were due to be erected nearby.


However the BBC THREE survey shows that on average the industry has failed to consult on the erection of 3G phone masts in 76% of cases surveyed.


3UK and T Mobile had not consulted in 75% of cases and for Vodafone the figure rose to 80%.


This is despite Government recommendations that masts should not be put up too near to schools without the schools being consulted.


The survey found there were 695 schools with 3G masts within 50 to 200 metres which have been put up since 2001 after the Ten Commitments were published.


A breakdown of the results by company shows:



own 462 3G masts within 50-200m from schools;

23 different schools have 3UK 3G masts within 50-200m;

254 schools of these schools responded and 191 (75%) had not been consulted.



own 171 3G masts within 50-200m from schools;

147 schools have Vodafone 3G masts within 50-200m;

81 schools of these schools responded and 65 (80%) had not been consulted.



own 155 3G masts within 50-200m from schools;

129 schools have T-Mobile 3G masts within 50-200m;

77 schools of these schools responded and 58 (75%) had not been consulted.


Malcolm Noble of the Secondary Heads Association told 3 Investigates that the figures were not acceptable.


He said: "Of course it isn't acceptable. This is evidence that self regulation isn't working."


The investigation team put their findings to the mobile phone companies.


3 UK said it "takes these issues seriously and works to ensure there is transparency".


T Mobile said that "it endeavours to provide information and engage with local authorities".


Vodafone said it has "worked very hard to make sure deployment teams and agents consult" and claims that some of the researched sites did not require consultation because they were 3G upgrades on existing masts or installed before the rules came in.


Others were run by another company that should have consulted on their behalf.


Notes to Editors


The 3 Investigates team mapped every school in the country to see how many were within a zone of 50 to 200 metres from any mobile phone mast.


The consultation part of the survey looked solely at 3G masts, all put up since the industry made its promises on consultation in 2001.


It tested the three operators who have got 3G networks up and running.


The survey was carried out between July and September this year.


Most scientists say there is no evidence that links phone masts to health scares.


But the Dutch Government last year asked their scientists to devise an experiment to prove masts were safe. They found a relationship between 3G base station signals and the effects on experienced human wellbeing.


The British Government's official science body – the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) - has said the results are important, and that more research is needed.


* A Macrocell provides the main coverage in a mobile network and operates with a typical power output of tens of watts. The antennas for macrocells are mounted on ground-based masts, rooftops and other existing structures. They must be positioned at a height that is not obstructed by surrounding buildings and terrain.


Microcells provide infill radio coverage and additional capacity where there are high numbers of users within macrocells. They have lower outputs than macrocells, usually a few watts.

The antennas for microcells are mounted at street level, typically on the external walls of existing structures, lamp posts and other street furniture. The antennas are smaller than macrocell antennas and when mounted on existing structures, can often be disguised as building features. Typically, microcells provide radio coverage across smaller distances and are placed 300-1,000m apart.


Source: Mobile Operators Association (MOA)




The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Category: News; BBC THREE

Date: 08.11.2004
Printable version


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

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